Renfrewshire Council

12. Supporting the next generation to thrive

Tackling Poverty

Renfrewshire's Tackling Poverty programme supports a number of projects which help our young people thrive and help break down some of the barriers to attainment.

The programme:

  • augments Cost of the School Day funding by £75,000 a year
  • provides funding for breakfast clubs in some of our most deprived areas relieving financial pressure on low-income families, but most importantly, makes sure that children start the school day ready to learn
  • funds the peer health project in partnership with Active Communities, working with young people in secondary schools across Renfrewshire to identify key health priorities in their school and developing young people to lead their own activities to improve health and wellbeing, with a focus on mental health
  • supports StreetStuff out of school activities during the holidays and at weekends, along with the provision of free healthy meals
  • ensures the Skoobmobile continues to provide a mobile public library service directly to children and families in communities.

Breakfast Clubs

Breakfast clubs are part of a number of schools, some of which are funded through the Tackling Poverty programme and others through other means or organised by individual schools. An evaluation of our breakfast clubs was carried out this year. Pupils and their parents or carers were asked a number of questions about the clubs.

Response to the clubs was very positive. 95% of children thought the clubs helped them get ready to learn and 92% said the breakfast clubs helped them concentrate throughout the day. 95% enjoyed socialising with their friends.

Over 80% of parents used the club to help with their working schedule, with almost 30% saying it helped with the family budget. Parents with more than one child were more likely to use the clubs to help with working arrangements and 36% of these parents advised the club helped with family budget.

One parent with three or more children said:

"It's allowed me to take up employment couple of days a week,. Without it, I'd never be able to make my work on time."

Breakfast Clubs were also found to have an impact on children's learning, with teaching practitioners recognising impacts, such as children being ready to learn and improved concentration and focus in those attending breakfast clubs.


StreetStuff provide free activities for children in the evenings, during the holidays and at weekends. A free healthy meal is provided and the StreetStuff buses also have free wifi to ensure young people aren't digitally excluded.

StreetStuff activities took place this year in local communities. This was a change from previous years where activities were in located within St Mirren Football Club. Over the Christmas break period, 258 young people attended, with 225 healthy meals bought, with children feeding into the menu choice. At Christmas, gift vouchers were purchased for the young people from stores selected based on conversation and feedback from staff and young people.

Over the spring holiday period, there were 540 attendances over the two week period, again, with lunch provided. Our StreetStuff buses were used during spring break.

Looking ahead, StreetStuff will be providing their offer to children age five and over through the Scottish Government Summer Holiday Food and Childcare programme funding. Although currently activities are focused in areas of multiple deprivation, working with partners will allow the service to be extended and child poverty priority groups to be better targeted.


The Skoobmobile provides a mobile public library service directly to children and families in communities. This service aims to help improve children's life chances by encouraging a lasting interest in reading, literacy, physical activity and learning. After the pandemic restrictions, Skoobmobile has returned to communities this year, providing a limited service. 3449 primary school pupils, 327 pre-five children and 306 adults were reached in in approximately 500 sessions. 2,573 books were borrowed and 694 children became members of Renfrewshire libraries. The team has been showing the older children some of the online resources available through the libraries, and how to download audio books.

Looking forward, over the summer period, Skoobmobile will support the summer reading challenge through a programme of weekly stops throughout the summer holidays. These include stops in schools within areas of multiple deprivation. As the reading challenge this year is linked to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the bus team have received training to support this.

Scottish Attainment Challenge

In response to our equity audit, which has been ongoing throughout the pandemic and attainment data, targeted approaches and interventions were developed to support schools with raising attainment and addressing health and wellbeing needs. Some examples are outlined below:

Our team of numeracy modelling and coaching officers (MCOs) engaged with 12 target schools, offering bespoke, in-class support and professional learning activities to develop teachers' knowledge and skills in effective teaching in numeracy and mathematics. The officers are having a direct impact on children as well as staff:

"The MCO has had a noticeable impact on the way numeracy and maths is being taught...Staff confidence has developed as well as skills... staff are more willing to try out some tasks and activities. [Children] talk more positively about numeracy and maths and what they have learned. In the stages the MCO is focussing on attainment has increased as November results demonstrated."

The pandemic meant that many children and young people missed out on vital transition visits to their primary or secondary schools. Transition teachers from primary schools supported 90 children ensuring their move to secondary was as seamless as possible. 86% agreed that their transition teacher had helped them settle into high school learning and gave them curricular support when needed.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of children and young people.  A digital mental health and wellbeing policy for schools was developed and implemented helping schools set out their aims and approaches as well as identifying training needs to support the outcomes of children and young people. 

Partnership working has allowed us to strengthen and add value to the work of schools following the pandemic. Active Schools are working with 11 schools to support learning through an after-school physical activity programme. 257 children have participated and benefited by engaging in a variety sport and physical activities which include literacy and numeracy content to support learning:

"In the Active Schools Reading Club, we have been focusing on inciting pleasure of reading though implementing Dive Into Reading strategies. We worked on comprehension... we discussed vocabulary and how it fits the purpose of the text, we made connections to what we know about the world, but most importantly, we tried to have fun with the text we have been reading."

The Place2Be service is supporting improvements in the emotional wellbeing of children, young people, staff and families. Since August 2021, Place2Be have supported 314 children and young people in targeted schools through 455 drop-in sessions, 191 one-to-one therapeutic counselling sessions, 35 parent partnership sessions and 178 staff Place2Think sessions.

"I like Place2Be because I am able to share my opinions and they don't judge you and they respect it," said one child.

"I have been feeling so overwhelmed and felt helpless about how to get help for my son. I am really grateful to Place2Be for supporting him," said one mother.

Through our work with Barnardos, three schools and one early learning and childcare centre (ELCC) were awarded 'Social and Emotion Learning (SEL) Worldwide Model School' status for their outstanding commitment to social and emotional learning through their involvement in the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) programme. 

In line with national guidance, schools used their Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) in a flexible way and responded directly to the emerging needs of children and young people. Schools utilised PEF to provide targeted support in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Some effective uses of PEF included supporting enhanced transition of pupils from associated primaries, delivering professional learning for teachers and support staff to support the implementation of effective interventions and providing targeted support for groups of young people at risk of disengaging from education through nurturing approaches. 

Cost of the School Day (COSD), which was topped up by the Tackling Poverty programme, was also used flexibly to directly support families.  The majority of COSD funding was used to purchase uniforms and winter  and outdoor clothing for children. This was particularly important due to increased ventilation and outdoor play requirements in schools throughout the pandemic. Families also received food vouchers and financial support with utility bills to help alleviate food and fuel poverty. 

Through COSD funding, nine schools took part in a participatory budgeting (PB) pilot. Schools were encouraged to work in collaboration with each other and include wider community partners. Projects focused on gender equality, food poverty, outdoor learning, nurture and family learning. As a result, children have developed a range of skills in decision making, negotiating, planning and leadership. Senior pupils have been able to gain experience of working with younger children which has supported their applications to further and higher education.

Looking ahead, the Scottish Government published a revised mission statement for the Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) and all local authorities will receive funding to close the poverty related attainment gap.  The refreshed mission is cognisant of the role that partners play in closing the gap ensuring that all children are able to learn, achieve and attain. This also includes an enhanced focus on collaborative working with local poverty action groups and community planning partners. The SAC offer in Renfrewshire will include targeted and universal support to enhance learning and teaching, health and wellbeing, families and communities and leadership. This will be delivered in partnership with schools and wider partners to ensure that there is no poverty of ambition for children and young people in Renfrewshire.  

Peer Health

The peer health project, in partnership with Active Communities, continues to work across all Renfrewshire secondary schools, including our ASN secondary school. Peer educators are recruited and trained and workshops provided so teachers can support this work. In addition, a drop-in community drop in takes place once a week. Older pupils, who are providing support can use this as to contribute toward Saltire and Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Activities are decided within individual schools and based on their priorities. Examples of the work taking place are:

  • cooking sessions delivered by a restaurant aimed at pupils leaving/moving out and for young carers across the school
  • LGBTQ+ lessons delivered to all S3 pupils
  • Wellbeing Homework Club to be started with online input from teachers to help through the homework
  • Random acts of Kindness across the school
  • Mental Health First Aid training
  • pupils volunteering within the community.

Renfrewshire's Children's Services Partnership

RRenfrewshire's Children's Services Partnership Plan 2021/22 to 2023-24 sets out our vision, that Renfrewshire's children and young people are happy, healthy, safe and thriving.

The partnership is responsible for a range of universal, targeted and specialist services which promote the safety and security of children, young people and their families. It supports a range of activities around health, safety, young people's rights and ensuring children and young people make positive contributions to their communities.

The plan for the next three years outlines actions and outcomes and will be monitored by a monitoring and evaluation sub-group which prepares a progress report for each meeting of the partnership board.

The partnership board will be responsible for decision making on appropriate local spend for the Whole Family Wellbeing Fund which is being distributed by Scottish Government and is intended to scale up and drive the delivery of holistic whole family support services. Spending criteria have been developed, with input from stakeholders, to guide decision making by children's services partnerships, reflecting consistent stakeholder input that flexibility will allow optimisation of approaches which best meet local need.

This funding forms a key part of Scottish Government's commitment to keep The Promise, recognising the importance of early intervention in reducing need for formal care.

The Promise

Renfrewshire has a strategic oversight group with five sub-groups sitting beneath replicating the five pillars of The Promise. More than 50 individuals are involved in this workstream from nine different agencies. This includes all key strategic partners, frontline staff and care experienced people. Throughout 2021, Renfrewshire's The Promise strategic oversight group and sub-groups met regularly.

Work around The Promise has progressed this year, with development in a number of key areas, including Promise keepers where we have developed a set of values for what is required to be a Promise keeper for individual staff to ensure that staff are considering the Promise in their day to day working lives. As a council it is important that we all recognise that we all play an important role in ensuring that the promise is kept across Renfrewshire, and also what that means and looks like for our individual job roles. Promise keepers will be responsible for championing The Promise in their services or organisations to ensure that The Promise is at the forefront of service delivery and design. Promise keepers will be formally recruited through an application form and will receive relevant training and development opportunities to ensure that they are fully supported in their roles.

A Promise self-evaluation toolkit has also been created in line with the key recommendations of The Independent Care Review and Plan 21-24 of The Promise. This tool aims to allow services and staff teams across the local authority to evaluate and measure their progress in implementing The Promise across these key areas. This will allow elements of best practice to be identified and celebrated, providing key learning opportunities across a wide range of services. This document will also allow us to gain an improved understanding of areas where improvement is needed so support can be provided to ensure that these gaps in provision are addressed.

In addition, a successful bid was made to the Life Changes Trust Legacy Fund and £400,000 granted for Digital Skills for People with Care Experience 2022-2025. This consortium bid with YMCA Scotland, YMCA Paisley, Youthlink Scotland, Barnardo's, Scottish Tech Army and Mhor Collective will support The Promise.

Community Learning and Development - Youth Services

Community learning and development reaches out to children, young people, adults and families, including those who face barriers and experience disadvantage, and takes a preventative and asset-building approach to working with people, families and communities.

For work with young people, this includes universal and targeted actions such as community-based youth work to build strength and capacity amongst young people, delivery of an extensive youth voice programme to ensure young people have every opportunity to be fully engaged in local and national decision-making structures and to raise awareness and participation in democracy and citizenship opportunities, actively removing barriers to participation. Duke of Edinburgh Award Programme and other wider achievement programmes are supported and delivered in schools and communities. Digital development opportunities and education recovery learning programmes ensure no young person is left behind, with a particular focus on reducing the educational poverty attainment gap. Universal youth engagement programmes will be maintained and developed that will reduce the impact of anti-social behaviour on communities - promoting safer communities and providing opportunities for participation, volunteering, employment and  building - as well as addressing known issues of poverty and holiday hunger in targeted communities.

Supporting the education recovery of young people, the collaborative working partnership Renfrewshire Youth Work Network, has developed community-based academies which offer thematic learning activities. There are four academies:

In each of the academies, young people not only engage and learn new skills, but are able to produce and create material and resources that will benefit others, peers and communities. This programme seeks to strengthen the youth work and schools partnership, focussing on reducing the poverty attainment gap.

The academies were formed as part of the Youth Work Educational Recovery Programme, supported by the Scottish Government and focus much of their work on some of the more deprived areas in Renfrewshire, although are open to all young people across the local authority area. Feedback for each academy has been excellent. Young people said they loved learning new skills, looking forward to new experiences each week, and enjoying meeting up with new friends.

See community learning and development plans and activities.